Category Archives: Middle Schools

Salad bars set to expand across district this school year

When most people think about students’ favorite lunches, they think of the standards – pizza, hamburgers, mac and cheese. But the introduction of salad bars at school cafeterias across the district is challenging the notion of what students enjoy eating.

Last year, the Houston Independent School District’s Nutrition Services department introduced salad bars as a standard option at more than 20 elementary schools. The pilot program was a first for elementary schools and proved so successful that salads made up more than half the meals served on the first day. Continue reading

Lawson MS students step into their new learning space for first day

Clad in super hero capes and masks, enthusiastic teachers and staff gathered in the foyer of the new Lawson Middle School to welcome students for the first day of the 2018-2019 school year.

Lawson Principal Kasey Bailey said the costumes were a reminder to students and parents of their power to move the campus forward and conquer obstacles that stand before them.

“It’s a new era of academic achievement” Bailey said. “Lawson’s academic status is now ‘Growth Distinction.’ We are no longer ‘Improvement Required.’ That alone has given us the additional boost of excitement preparing us for this new academic achievement.”

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HISD Board of Education approves 2018-2019 budget

The Houston Independent School District Board of Education on Monday unanimously approved a $2 billion budget for the 2018-2019 school year.

The budget includes $17 million in increases for special education, dyslexia programs, and Achieve 180, the research-based program that will continue next school year to support underserved and underperforming schools. The budget also includes a performance review by the Texas Legislative Budget Board (LBB).

The board also voted to reduce the proposed performance review allotment from $2.5 million to $1 million, with the difference of $1.5 million being transferred immediately to the general fund reserve for operations. The total cost of the performance review to be conducted by the LBB has not yet been determined.  The LBB is expected to begin working on the performance review in fall 2018 so that findings may be used by the board in the decision-making process during the next budget cycle.

As other large school districts in Texas, HISD continues to face looming budget shortfalls in the coming years due to inadequate state funding and increasing recapture payments. HISD has been designated by the state as a property-wealthy school district under the state’s school finance system, despite the fact that almost 80 percent of students are considered low-income.

Recapture requires districts that exceed a certain per-student property wealth level to send local tax dollars to the state. The 2018-19 budget has a $272.5 million recapture payment budgeted.

Preliminary HISD STAAR scores show strong gains across multiple grades, subjects, and student groups

Houston Independent School District students showed strong gains that exceeded those made by the state in third- through eighth-grade reading and math, and on end-of-course (EOC) assessments in English I and Algebra I, according to preliminary 2018 State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness (STAAR) scores.

“This year, our students made significant progress on the state-mandated STAAR tests,” Interim Superintendent Grenita Lathan said. “We are excited about what these preliminary results mean for our schools labeled by the state as Improvement Required and our district’s accountability ratings. HISD is shifting course and turning schools around. We know that it is critical that we continue our commitment to strengthening the supports in place to further advance our progress in student achievement.”

Overall, the spring administration of the 2018 STAAR grades 3-8 assessment results indicate the district held steady or showed increases in the percentage of students meeting the Approaches Grade Level standard in reading, math, science, and social studies. Continue reading

Lawson MS hosts ‘Walk to Remember’ before building demolition

Music echoed throughout the Lawson Middle School gym as community members gathered with former students and staff to catch up with old friends, flip through old yearbooks, and dance the afternoon away.

Led by current students and staff, the stroll down memory lane was part of a “Walk to Remember” — an event held to let stakeholders bid their final farewells to the building before it is demolished later this summer.

“It’s important to preserve the memories,” Lawson Principal Kasey Bailey said. “There’s a lot of history with this school, but we’re very excited to move into the new building.”

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Nutrition Services provides good food with everlasting knowledge at ‘Camp Lit’

Equipped with planters, soil, and seeds, HISD’s Nutrition Services workers had all hands-on deck as they taught nearly 9,000 elementary and middle school students various ways to dig into good nutrition.

The day’s festivities were a part of Camp Lit, a two-day festival designed to promote literacy throughout the district. Gathered in the parking lot of Delmar Fieldhouse, students participated in outdoor tailgate-themed literacy games hosted by various district departments, sponsors, and partners.  Continue reading

Two-day ‘Camp Lit’ event kicks off HISD summer school  

The Houston Independent School District welcomed thousands of students to summer school, themed “Camp Lit” for literacy, on Wednesday and Thursday at Delmar Fieldhouse with a series of pep rallies and tailgates.

The summer kickoff for elementary students was held on Wednesday, and middle school students celebrated on Thursday.

“This is the brainchild of our interim superintendent. The idea is to continue our focus on literacy but in a way that is exciting and engaging,” Officer for Special Populations Courtney Busby said. “We want our students to know that meeting their needs in the summer is critical for their overall success. What better way to do that than with a celebration where all kids will leave with books to add to their personal libraries.”  Continue reading

15 HISD schools ranked in the top 10 among Children at Risk’s annual top-performing schools

Number of schools given Gold Ribbon status nearly doubles to 21

Children at Risk announced its annual list of the top schools in the greater Houston area, and for the eighth consecutive year, HISD’s DeBakey High School for Health Professions was listed as number one among high schools in the area and the state.

Five other HISD high schools were included in the top 10: Eastwood Academy (#2), Carnegie Vanguard High School (#3), East Early College High School (#6), Sharpstown International School (#8), and Challenge Early College High School (#10).

Five HISD middle schools also were recognized as top 10 performers: T.H. Rogers School (#1), Project Chrysalis Middle School (#4), Lanier Middle School (#6), Energized for STEM Academy Southwest MS (#6), Mandarin Immersion Magnet School (#9). On the elementary school list, four HISD schools were ranked in the top 10: T.H. Rogers School (#1), Horn Elementary School (#4), River Oaks Elementary School (#5), and West University Elementary School (#6). Continue reading

HISD announces new college and career readiness initiatives

The Houston Independent School District on Thursday announced the creation of new programs to expand college and career readiness opportunities for students across the district:  Launch HISD and Project Explore.

The new programs are under the newly established Office of Strategy and Innovation led by EMERGE founder Rick Cruz.

Launch HISD is a comprehensive college and career readiness and advising program. The program will serve students at every middle and high school campus in the district, expanding advising and college and career exploration for larger groups of students. The Launch HISD curriculum will incorporate college visits and career exploration, and will include a capstone college or career readiness project that every middle school participant will have to complete to develop their personalized graduation plan.

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Project Chrysalis MS named Title I National Distinguished School

School is one of 63 nationwide to receive designation

Project Chrysalis Middle School has been recognized as a National Title I Distinguished School, an award that honors schools for their positive educational advances. The school is one of two in the state of Texas and one of only 63 nationwide to receive the designation.

The Project Chrysalis was selected by the Texas Education Agency to represent Texas as one of the highest-rated Title I Distinguished Schools based on its success in closing the achievement gap between student groups. Located near the city’s East End, the school serves nearly 300 students. Continue reading